For a long time, autonomous vehicles had to be delivered with steering wheels and pedals. However, The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has just taken these rules away.
Previously, the vehicles would not be street legal without certain safety features such as the steering wheel and pedals, which seems fairly essential. But, with more self-driving vehicles coming to the market, these are now sometimes not necessary.
The increase in companies creating self-driving vehicles being approved in the US has had a knock on effect of these rules being changed. Since the rule change has been announced, Tesla and GM who have previously said that they intend to produce vehicles without steering wheels and pedals, will now be able to release these in the US.
The NHTSA announced:
“U.S. regulators on Thursday issued final rules eliminating the need for automated vehicle manufacturers to equip fully autonomous vehicles with manual driving controls to meet crash standards.”
This rule is for completely new vehicles being built from scratch, rather than altering current vehicles.
Tesla rerelease in 2019 the Model 3 without a steering wheel, but we still may not see that on the road for a while due to the companies approach to self-driving. GM also unveiled the Bolt EV in 2018, also without a steering wheel, and said they were planning on deploying them with Cruise Automation technology.
Where companies like Cruise and Waymo already have self-driving vehicles for commercial purposes in specific areas of cities, Tesla is planning on having no restrictions on area for their self-driving vehicles and claim that their current cars have the hardware needed for this for future updates in the software. The current vehicles are still supervised or driven by the owners so have the steering wheels and pedals in place.